According to researchers at the University of Illinois, how you express your emotions can reduce or increase anxiety. According to their study, people who suppress or avoid expressing their feelings had more social anxiety and anxiety in general than people who focused on the positives in situations. Similar studies found that suppressing emotions increased stress and led to hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
There are many people who have difficulty expressing their emotions positively. Many people believe they only have two options when they’re upset: sharing their feelings and confronting the offended person, or repressing their feelings. However, there are many ways to express your emotions. Here are three research-backed recommendations:
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling allows you to understand your thoughts and feelings better. In addition to reducing stress, it can also help you manage anxiety.
Journaling allows you to express your emotions privately. To better understand stressors and devise a plan for dealing with them, you can write down how you feel and what may have caused your anxiety. As a result of journaling, you can track anxiety symptoms to manage them better.
Journal writing can be done in a variety of ways. According to Rochester Medical Center, it is recommended to:
- Write in your journal every day.
- You can write whatever you feel like. Don’t worry about spelling or what others might think.
- It is a good idea to keep paper and pen handy so you can write often.
Whether you keep it private or share parts, it’s up to you. Please remember that you make the decisions here; this is your personal, safe space.
2. Make gratitude a habit
Researchers have found being grateful reduces stress and physical disease. More gratitude is associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue, and lower inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health.
Gratitude can be included in your daily life in a variety of ways, such as:
- To help you focus on the positive aspects of your life, write down three reasons you are grateful every day. It is common for people to set aside a few minutes each day to reflect on what they appreciate in their lives.
- Get a gratitude buddy. You can share something positive daily with this person to keep yourself motivated. For example, your friend might text you to ask what you are grateful for today.
- Ritualize gratitude. Before meals, you might say grace (and mean it) or say a prayer of thanks every morning before waking up or every night before sleeping.
- Let someone know you appreciate their friendship, support, encouragement, or something specific. Write a letter of appreciation or thank someone in person.
- The practice of gratitude can immediately make a tremendous difference in someone’s life. They find they are happier, more content, and less anxious.
3. Talk to someone
If you openly discuss your feelings with a friend, relative, or therapist, you can put them into perspective. Talking about your feelings can help deflate intense or negative emotions. You can process the situation more calmly if you let it out.
The act of talking can also help you identify your emotions. You might be unable to tell if you’re angry, worried, irritable, or anxious when stressed. There are times when you wonder if your emotions match the situation or if they are justified. The process of discussing a problem can help you sort out your feelings. You can gain insight into your life and learn about yourself by talking.
Consider speaking with a therapist or counselor if you don’t feel comfortable discussing your emotions with others.